To celebrate a highly anticipated return to its renovated home at the Noe Valley Ministry, Noe Valley Chamber Music is staging a special concert this weekend showcasing longtime San Francisco Opera Orchestra cellist Emil Miland and six of his equally dynamic musical pals.
“NVCM asked me to put the program together,” Miland told the S.F. Examiner. “I used to live in Noe Valley, so it’s a chance to play for a lot of friends in my old stomping ground. The miracle is that five incredible pianists agreed to join me.”
Jake Heggie, Candace Forest, Allison Lovejoy, Steven Bailey and Joan Nagano – and soprano Ann Moss – appear with Miland in the Sunday afternoon program, which includes the U.S. premiere of “Prelude, Interlude, Postlude” by French composer Michel Merlet and the world premiere of “Full Fathom Five,” a vocal work by Bay Area composer Liam Wade.
Music by Lou Harrison, local composer Forest and Heggie’s arrangement of three Noel Coward songs round out the guaranteed knock-your-socks-off concert. “This is what Emil is about,” says Heggie, whose “3 Song Coward Cabaret,” which he wrote for Miland 20 years ago, caps the afternoon. “Emil specializes in wide-ranging collaborations and an amazing assortment of music. It’s always fun to fasten your seat belts and take a ride on the Emil Miland rollercoaster.”
Merlet’s concert opener starts with the prelude to J.S. Bach’s first Cello Suite, and then takes off into unknown territory. Wade’s world premiere, a setting of poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay, was written for soprano Moss.
“I think Liam Wade is really, really talented, and a natural-born songwriter” says Heggie, whose operas “Dead Man Walking” and “Moby-Dick” have made him one of the most sought-after American composers in the world. “And Ann Moss is equally special. She’s made it her business to champion new composers, and has had dozens and dozens and dozens of songs written for her.”
As for his Coward arrangement, Heggie explains that the late Alan Farley, longtime host on KALW-FM, was a Coward aficionado who did a Noel Coward program every year. “Back when I was doing PR at San Francisco Opera and longing to become a composer,” says Heggie, “Alan asked me to arrange three songs for Emil. We’ve done them many, many times over the years, and people always delight in them.”
Miland is unstinting in his praise for NVCM. “They really strive to make chamber music in their intimate setting a part of the community,” he says. “Every concert they present allows audience members to get up close to the artists and the spirit of the music. It’s going to be so much fun.”
IF YOU GO
Emil Miland and Friends
Presented by Noe Valley Chamber Music
Where: Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez St., S.F.
When: 4 p.m. Jan. 25 (3:15 p.m. pre-concert talk)
Tickets: $20 to $15, free for ages 12 and under
Contact: (415) 648-5236, www.nvcm.org